VMware Serves Up Tasty View Helping

VMware knows that it is in a dog-eat-dog fight with Citrix for desktop supremacy, so it took the opportunity this week to brag about one of its premier View installations while announcing a couple of generally available desktop packages that are aimed at the enterprise, healthcare and government markets, and employ some core VMware technologies.

The installation is the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi in Japan, which says that it has deployed 50,000 seats of View virtual desktops. The first new package is VMware View Mobile Secure Desktop, while the second is VMware View AlwaysOn Desktop.

VMware View Mobile Secure Desktop offers users the meat and potatoes that is quick and easy access to apps across devices, locations and networks. More goodness, and more soothing words: "It streamlines and automates desktop management and provides IT with the ability to apply location-aware, policy-driven access to corporate resources to ensure higher levels of security and compliance." Whoosh.

Bringing on the VMware core capabilities, the package starts out with View and adds vShield security services and vCOPs monitoring components. We are assured that it has been given the architectural seal of approval by VMware partners as an "end-to-end solution designed to securely support device diversity, mobile workers and BYOD initiatives." What's not to like?

VMware View AlwaysOn Desktop is aimed at a wide audience but for purposes of its unveiling, the company is targeting always-on users at healthcare, financial services, and government institutions. What it does for them is offer tasty desktop tidbits such as "reliable," "available," and "secure."

Just in case anybody doubted its 24x7 chops, and its dedication to apps and data access, View AlwaysOn uses "stateless virtual desktops in an active/active configuration with constant load balancing, multi-path access and built-in redundancy." Not a morsel of app or data access is wasted.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 06/27/2012 at 12:48 PM1 comments

Citrix Jumps on Bromium Bandwagon

The first time I talked to Simon Crosby after he left Citrix to co-found Bromium, he made it clear that he and CEO Mark Templeton were parting on good terms, which is why it comes as no surprise to me that Tal Klein of Bromium had a guest Citrix blog post entitled "Good Things Come in Small Packages" earlier this week, after his company unveiled its Bromium Microvisor technology at GigaOm's Structure conference.

Klein describes how the Bromium Microvisor automatically protects each vulnerable task on the operating system and instantly hardware-isolates it within a micro-VM, which is a "lightweight, hardware-backed isolation container that polices access to all OS services." Micro-VMs run natively on the OS without performance impact, but continuously protect the system -- even from unknown threats.

"A micro-VM can only access OS services or devices via simple controls that pause the execution of tasks and instantaneously arbitrate access through the microviser," Klein writes. "This provides an unbreakable hardware backstop for all software isolation technologies used by the OS and its applications, and imposes tight control on access to sensitive data, networks and other resources."

The Bromium system architecture was created with the understanding that micro-VMs will be compromised, but guarantees that the attacker could not gain access to sensitive data or applications or persist an attack. "A Micro-VM can only access data on a need-to-know basis, and any changes it makes are nulled as soon as the user closes the application, thereby automatically incapacitating malware and eliminating remediation costs, even for PCs that haven't been patched," Klein declares.

Turning his attention to how XenDesktop fits in, he says Bromium's new technology guarantees end-to-end security for users on laptops using Citrix Receiver to access their hosted sessions, no matter which FlexCast flavor users employ to deliver Windows desktops and apps. Klein goes on to claim that Bromium protects data on the endpoint at runtime, and prevents attacks from all outside vectors, including USB, web, apps, mime types, etc. on the client by design. As he puts it, "There is therefore no risk of a user's personal activities such as web browsing or web-mail compromising Receiver, the browser, the desktop or the enterprise."

To that end, he notes that Bromium is working with Citrix on the development of a Bromium plug-in for Receiver, and is seeking beta customers who have implemented Receiver in their enterprises.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 06/21/2012 at 12:48 PM0 comments

Serengeti Soups Up Apache Hadoop

Via a new open source project named Serengeti, VMware is bringing Apache Hadoop up to speed by enabling it to run in mainstream virtualization and cloud environments and simplifying its deployment, configuration and management. Beyond that, the open source software framework for data-intensive, distributed applications is being developed to contribute extensions that will make key components "virtualization-aware to support elastic scaling and further improve Hadoop performance in virtual environments."

VMware is also positioning Apache Hadoop, which has been languishing below its potential, as the de facto standard for big data processing. The company recognizes that this alleged distinction loses some of its luster when you consider the fact that deployment and operational complexity, along with the need for dedicated hardware, and concerns about security and service level assurance, prevent many enterprises from leveraging the power of Hadoop.

Enter Serengeti, which is available for free download under the Apache 2.0 license. According to VMware, "By decoupling Apache Hadoop nodes from the underlying physical infrastructure, VMware can bring the benefits of cloud infrastructure -- rapid deployment, high-availability, optimal resource utilization, elasticity and secure multi-tenancy -- to Hadoop."

VMware is understandably quick to link Hadoop with vSphere, noting that Serengeti is a "one-click" deployment toolkit that enables enterprises to leverage vSphere to deploy a highly available Apache Hadoop cluster in 10 minutes, including common Hadoop components such as Apache Pig and Apache Hive.

VMware is working with prominent Apache Hadoop distribution vendors, including Cloudera, Greenplum, Hortonworks, IBM and MapR to support a wide range of distributions.

In an effort to simplify and expedite enterprise deployments of Apache Hadoop, VMware is also working with the Apache Hadoop community to contribute changes to the Hadoop distributed File System (HDFS) and Hadoop MapReduce projects to make them virtualization-aware. The company also announced updates to Spring for Apache Hadoop, an open source project first launched in Feburary 2012 to make it easy for enterprise developers to build distributed processing solutions with Apache Hadoop.

All told, these projects and contributions have an ulterior motive, which is to "accelerate Hadoop adoption and enable enterprises to leverage big data analytics such as Cetas -- which was acquired by VMware this April -- to obtain real-time, intelligent insight into large quantities of data."

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 06/19/2012 at 12:48 PM2 comments

New Product Parade at Dell Storage Forum

Using its Dell Storage Forum as a backdrop, Dell took the wraps off AppAssure 5 and other new products for its Dell Fluid Data architecture, including an enterprise class distributed file system, a Compellent platform designed to dynamically unify block and file data, the second generation of EqualLogic and PowerVault NAS solutions, and a Dell Brocade 16GB Fibre Channel switch.

Dell is offering AppAssure 5 less than four months after buying AppAssure, and the word is out that Dell is pouring resources into this backup product, which helps customers continuously protect business information, and move and recover data anywhere with high levels of scale, speed and efficiency.

According to Dell, "New AppAssure capabilities include greater scalability and performance utilizing a newly architected, object-based data repository to back up and protect larger data sets as well as Big Data applications. The solution also utilizes built-in, block-level deduplication and compression across data sets to automatically reduce the storage capacity required for backups and decreases WAN bandwidth requirements for replication by only transmitting optimized data. Additional support for Linux and localized language support is expected later this year."

The latest release of the Dell Fluid File System with the new Dell Compellent FS8600 NAS represents the final step in offering customers file capabilities across each of Dell's primary storage platforms -- Compellent, EqualLogic and PowerVault.

The next generation Compellent array, comprised of the SC 8000 and FS 8600 is designed to reduce the total cost of ownership by managing a virtualized, scalable pool of disks to expand up and out across block and file data without forklift upgrades.

The second generation of EqualLogic and PowerVault NAS solutions featuring Dell's Fluid File System include the EqualLogic FS7600 and FS7610 and the PowerVault NX3600 and NX 3610.

The Brocade 16GB Fibre Channel Switch is an entry level product which complements the mid-range Brocade 6510 and 8510 SAN backbone. According to Dell, "Certified for Dell Compellent arrays, the series helps simplify scale-out network design to reduce network complexity, management and costs, while helping maximize overall port density and space utilization through massive consolidation of legacy SANs."

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 06/13/2012 at 12:48 PM1 comments

Reflex Gets Its Arms Around Big Data

Virtualization continues to be a very disruptive technology, as it generates large data volumes and change rates that defy management and correlation. Reflex Systems is striving to contain the chaos and advance the cause of analytics via Reflex VMC, which provides real-time, streaming data analysis that enables enterprises to create "extremely granular" visibility and "pure data fidelity" for managing virtual infrastructures in large, enterprise environments with 100s or thousands of hosts and tens of thousands of VMs.

Reflex cites a happy customer that is also a "top 10 bank" that is managing over 10,000 VMs with Reflex VMC . The bank is pleased because through the use of real-time monitoring, it is able to produce both macro and executive summarizations and perform analysis on specific real-time or historical health and performance criteria down to the VM level from the same set of data.

Although the company sometimes sells to the CIO level, it is primarily interested in dealing with what it calls, "the guys who manage tactical issues of handling infrastructure."

The bottom line according to Reflex: "Utilizing Reflex VMC, IT organizations can quickly analyze data in real time, wrap context around it and present it in a meaningful way to best decide how to control and optimize virtualized datacenters and private cloud environments of scale."

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 06/11/2012 at 12:48 PM2 comments

VMware CTO Foresees 'Software-Defined Datacenter'

Recently, VMware CTO and Senior VP of R&D Steve Herrod blogged on VMware's interest in having IT shift from data centers and infrastructure defined by devices and hardware bought by IT to what he calls the "Software-Defined Datacenter."

Looking back, Herrod described how computing resources were connected to "huge, specialized, mainframes" supported by lots of specialized software, noting that during the past 20 years, IT has moved -- at a high price -- to the point where industry-standard hardware can run almost anything. In his words, "This capability has been augmented by virtualization, enabling efficient and flexible use of powerful resources."

Charting the history of virtualization, he says we are now in a phase where automation takes control, expediting computing-related operations and improving their reliability. With VMware's partners, he adds, VMware was able to do much the same thing with storage, pooling different storage devices into pools for assignment to any one of the VMs.

"And now we're seeing abstraction in networking and security of our data centers. Virtual switches have been around for a few years, and now we're seeing VXLANs and OpenFlow abstract and enable more pooling and automation than in the past. With these last pieces of the datacenter moving towards a software-defined model, we're seeing it become entirely possible to have a fully Software-Defined Datacenter.

The CTO says this Software-Defined Datacenter makes it possible to think more widely about provisioning workloads, as virtualization's early stages have made it easy and affordable to spin up VMs quickly. However, he states, when deploying workloads into production environments, there are many additional steps as their network identity is created, monitoring probes are installed, and security policies are enforced.

Herrod declares that in a perfect world, there would no longer be a need to order some specialized hardware, followed by hiring a consultant who would install and program the device in its specialized language. Instead, he says, "We'll simply define an application and all of the resources that it needs, including all of its compute, storage, networking and security needs, then group all those things together to create a logical application. There's work ahead, but I see the Software-Defined Datacenter as enabling this dramatic simplification."

He muses about a future when infrastructures are no longer held captive by highly specialized hardware, but instead are agile and flexible and working off of software instructions -- which makes operations simpler. "I am also excited about the ability to bring this simplicity to more applications than ever before. VMware's heritage is making existing applications work even better, but we're also proving that new application types such as HPC, Hadoop, and latency-sensitive apps can also run in this environment. One platform for all apps."

Herrod says VMware and many of its partners are extending their efforts to enable the transition to an environment where infrastructure makes businesses more flexible, agile and responsive to customers, adding, "After all, that's the most important mission of IT."

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 06/06/2012 at 12:48 PM3 comments

Quest Paves the Way to Win7 with Two Updates

"Quest is in the migration business -- a several hundred million-dollar migration business," says Shayne Higdon, senior VP and GM, User Workspace Management and Monitoring, Quest Software. Higdon should know, because he has his fingerprints all over Quest's business in this area, and therefore is a major player in its future.

Of top current concern for Higdon is Windows 7 -- which he says is running on 39 percent of PCs -- and the release of new versions of his company's Workspace ChangeBASE and Workspace Asset Manager products, which he lauds for their abilities to slash average migration times to Win 7 by up to 50 percent, which in the real world translates up to six months. Of course, Quest also notes that these two new solutions advance the software firm's required ability to manage user-centric workspaces that run on any device, anytime, anywhere.

When Workspace ChangeBASE and Workspace Asset Manager get together, they do a good thing, which is taking on the previously and largely ignored task of tracking down and cleaning up applications which might otherwise form an obstacle to Quest's several-hundred-million-dollar migration practice. Continuing in this positive vein, the two solutions then take over management of the ongoing application environment with dynamic updates based on application compatibility rule info in addition to monthly updates of OS patches.

Quest sums up these capabilities by declaring, "With these latest advancements, Quest integrates application compatibility with application discovery to create a complete user workspace management portfolio that alleviates Windows 7 deployment challenges." No muss, no fuss.

The company is basically saying that when it comes to Win 7 migrations, if you're not using Quest for everything from pre-deployment preparation to in-the-trenches support and ongoing maintenance and management, you must be crazy.

Windows 8 is also on Quest's migration radar, and for a solid blog's worth of information on that upcoming migration -- Higdon courteously reminds us that Win7 end of life is just around the corner in 2014 -- please go to our Virtual Snapshot column for "Are You Ready to Exploit Windows 8?"

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 06/06/2012 at 12:48 PM1 comments

Liquidware Labs Helps Users Install Their Own Apps

Now that diversity is the go-to strategy for VDI-related systems, Liquidware Labs is understandably bragging about how its new ProfileUnity 5.0 with FlexApp enables virtual desktop users to seamlessly install their own apps into any non-persistent Windows environment -- including virtual desktop solutions from VMware, Citrix and Red Hat.

The key to Liquidware Labs' technology is its ability to work in these heterogeneous environments without negatively impacting master images or underlying systems. The upshot is fewer desktop images can support more workers on virtual desktops, which the company says enables more companies to "move hundreds or even thousands of physical PCs to virtual platforms running Windows 7."

Sam Ault, system administrator for Turner Brothers, is a happy ProfileUnity with FlexApp customer. Saying the software significantly changes the way users are managed in his Citrix testing and production environments, he claims they now are able to "FlexApp" every app they've tried. "The solution is highly capable of delivering on its promise of separately managing the installation of user applications, while leaving the underlying golden image intact for streamlined management," Ault notes.

Briefly stated, ProfileUnity with FlexApp is enabled by an admin for select users or groups within the ProfileUnity central console. Users are provisioned a virtual hard disk to store their apps separately from the OS and local session, which streamlines the environment. "Users need only install apps just as they would normally, and ProfileUnity with FlexApp 'hooks' the installation of the program, adding special links into both the local Windows OS and the user- managed ProfileUnity with FlexApp settings.

Liquidware Labs -- which aims to be 100 percent channel-based once desktop virtualization becomes more pervasive -- claims to encounter AppSense in 75 percent of its deals, and says it triumphs in 80 percent of those, despite AppSense's close relationship with Citrix.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 06/04/2012 at 12:48 PM3 comments

EMC, VMware Seek the Big Storage View

Call it Big Analytics. EMC and VMware are taking advantage of their unique relationship -- EMC owns some 80 percent of VMware's stock -- to jointly integrate EMC's VNX storage intelligence with the analytics of VMware's vCenter Operations Management Suite via the new VNX Connector. The goal is to enable a single, high-end view of IT infrastructures via VNX.

Expanding on their "long-standing partnership," the two companies will produce two deliverables. The first is the VNX Storage Analytics Suite, which is based on vCenter Operations Management Suite and designed to provide storage performance, capacity optimization and enhanced SLA performance via analytics and diagnostics. The VNX Connector will play its part by producing storage metrics and configurable dashboards within vCenter Operations Management Suite.

It sounds like VMware is producing technology for analytics-heavy companies like John Deere and Coca Cola, who are striving to consolidate vast and widely dispersed data repositories in an effort to better understand their data and how they can use it to their competitive advantage. For example, Coke's Freestyle System -- a high-tech service fountain that gathers information on everything from sales of 125 Coke products to the onsite ambient temperature -- is an excellent example of a cutting-edge, big data implementation that feeds a back-end analytics engine.

In the words of EMC, "VMware vCenter Operations Management Suite provides holistic visibility and understanding of the virtual environment leading to optimization across compute, storage, and network. New integration with EMC VNX Connector for VMware vCenter Operations Management Suite will marry VNX storage metrics with VMware vCenter Operations capabilities such as intuitive, configurable dashboards with drill-down, health alerts and patented analytics."

The EMC VNX Storage Analytics Suite and EMC VNX Connector for VMware vCenter Operations Management Suites are expected to be generally available in the second half of 2012.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 05/22/2012 at 12:48 PM1 comments

VMware vFabric Suite 5.1 Automates Java App Deployment

By providing the core application services required to build, run and manage Java Spring applications on- premise or in the cloud, the newly introduced VMware vFabric Suite 5.1 automates the deployment and management of complex applications on VMware cloud infrastructure and features in-memory distributed SQL database capabilities designed to slash database management costs. It also solidifies the company's relationship with Java developers.

vFabric's recipe for success includes cutting not only costs, but also the complexity of traditional Java platforms via a lightweight development and runtime designed for VMware cloud infrastructures. Key components include VMware's Spring development framework, the latest generation of vFabric services, and a per-VM licensing model.

"The cloud era is driving a transformation in applications," says Jerry Chen, vice president, Cloud and Application Services, VMware. "Today, most are built with open source development frameworks, deployed on lightweight application containers, run on virtual infrastructure and are data-intensive. This is driving a real transition in the type of technologies our customers are using to build, run and manage these new applications."

In recognition of the trend toward automated application deployment, the vFabric suite includes Application Director, which automates app deployment via blueprints with standardized templates, component libraries and workflows. According to Leah Schoeb, Senior Partner, EvaluatorGroup, "The Application Manager now makes it much easier for rapid provisioning and the ability to standardize deployment of Spring applications with better management."

A companion technology, vFabric Application Performance Manager, reportedly provides comprehensive monitoring of end-user transactions, Java code, middleware servers, and vSphere hosts, which allows users to proactively and quickly manage app performance, locate and solve problems, and comply with SLAs.

The vFabric SQLFire distributed in-memory database included with vFabric enables users to create a grid of nodes inside or across data centers. This allows them to scale applications horizontally by just adding more capacity at the data tier as an application comes under load. Database performance is also enhanced because by pooling memory, CPU and network resources across machine clusters, vFabric SQLFire eliminates the primary performance bottleneck that commonly plagues databases -- access to disk.

VMware sites Southwest Airlines as a satisfied customer, quoting CTO Bob Young, who stresses the importance of customer service and the ability to provide customers with a seamless shopping, booking and travel experience. "We have a number of strategic initiatives underway at Southwest Airlines, and a core component in supporting these critical applications is ensuring an agile, flexible delivery of technology to all parts of the company. By partnering with VMware, for example, we were able to streamline the way we deliver and deploy applications across platforms, without compromising our service-centered approach."

In keeping with VMware's quest to provide open source technologies, the vFabric suite supports open source runtime components commonly deployed in production deployments featuring Spring applications, including Apache Tomcat, Apache HTTP Server and RabbitMQ messaging. VMware says this "greatly simplifies" the adoption path of vFabric technologies for current users of these open source components.

"The release of VMware vFabric Suite 5.1 is furthering VMware's mission to further integrate their product stack for easier use and more importantly, management of private and hybrid clouds," Loeb says.

VMware vFabric Suite 5.1 is expected to debut by the end of June, and will be licensed per VM with prices starting at $1,500 per VM. VMware vFabrix SQLFire is now available, and also licensed per VM with a starting price of $2,500 per VM, when it is purchased as part of VMware vFabric Suite Advanced.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 05/18/2012 at 12:48 PM1 comments

Virsto-XenDesktop Combo Imminent

Virsto Software announced its initial support for Hyper-V -- as opposed to VMware -- when the company debuted in 2007, but has subsequently spread the wealth across VMware and Citrix as well. In its latest announcement, Virsto is taking something of a hybrid, best-of-breed approach with an eye on VDI by unveiling a beta version of Virsto for XenDesktop on vSphere.

This move wasn't too difficult to anticipate, given the complementary nature of the Citrix and VMware products. After all, as far back as August of last year, John Fanelli, VP, Product Marketing, Enterprise Desktops and Apps for Citrix declared, "Both XenDesktop 5.5 and vSphere 5 represent the very best technology our respective companies have put forward." Definitely a Kumbaya moment.

Of course, from Virsto's perspective, this is all about using their purpose-built storage hypervisor to carve out market share while saving big bucks for customers on storage in the multi-thousand-seat VDI environments Citrix likes to brag about.

Specifically, Virsto -- which refers to itself as a close partner of Citrix, Microsoft and VMware -- claims, "Virsto is changing the economics of XenDesktop deployments by lowering the storage costs per desktop by more than 50 percent while providing performance gains of up to 10x, and storage utilization gains of up to 10x."

Keys to success here include native support for vSphere 4.1 and 5.0, along with easy-to-use storage management features including virtual machine storage, self-provisioning, automated space reclamation, thin provisioning, and tiering of golden master and user data volumes.

Virsto says that current XenDesktop users can continue using the company's software-only storage hypervisor while employing native Citrix desktop management workflows. As Virsto explains it, this is because Virsto is "seamlessly" compatible with existing workflows, and offers high-performance, space-efficient storage that is instantly provisioned, and fully supports high availability features such as failover, using any existing, block-based storage.

Like all the other vendors looking to capitalize on the burgeoning VDI market, Virsto spins horror stories about pilots failing due to miserable end-user experiences, bloated storage costs, chaotic bootstorms, and forced over-provisioning. The result is a bad situation waiting for a good answer, and Virsto thinks it has that answer.

Now in beta, Virsto for XenDesktop on vSphere will be generally available during Q3 of 2012.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 05/16/2012 at 12:48 PM5 comments

Citrix Synergy Heavy on Cloud, Mobility

Citrix used its Synergy conference last week to make a slew of cloud- and mobility-related product and services announcements. Prominent among them were the acquisition of Virtual Computer and its connection to the new XenClient Enterprise, the Podio collaboration platform, CloudGateway 2, and Project Avalon.

Virtual Computer Acquisition
The Virtual Computer acquisition -- the terms of which were not revealed -- is a good fit for Citrix, and Virtual Computer's NxTop Enterprise product, which allows companies to virtualize desktops using a Type-1 client hypervisor for online and offline functionality of desktops and laptops, is the driving force behind the new XenClient Enterprise Edition, which will be available by the end of June. In this case, XenClient plus the "rich set of management" functionality designed to help enterprise users manage "large fleets" of corporate laptops continues Citrix's dedication to client-side virtualization and mobility.

And why not? IDC says that by 2015 mobile workers will comprise some 40 percent of the workforce, while Forrester Research predicts that 65 percent of information workers currently work from multiple locations, and by 2016, 350 million employees will user smartphones, and 200 million of that group will bring their own to work.

Podio Collaboration Platform
Based on Citrix's Podio acquisition, which is highlighted by the Podio collaboration platform, Citrix intends to offer a cloud service that caters to working in a "social setting" via an application concept that brings structure and activity streams to a wide variety of work and collaboration. Podio is designed to work with a growing list of services, including GoToMeeting, Citrix ShareFile, Evernote, Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive and SugarSync, and according to Citrix, "Podio now supports all major cloud file and document sharing services."

For more information, or to set up a free Podio account, go to www.podio.com. To take advantage of the new Citrix integrations, GoToMeeting and ShareFile customers can visit www.podio.com, set up a free account and then access their ShareFile and GoToMeeting services within Podio's collaborative work platform.

Project Avalon
Windows apps may not rule the IT roost they used to before the mobile world exploded, but they were front and center with the introduction of Project Avalon, Citrix's next step up in transforming Windows apps and desktops into cloud services delivered across any network to any device. The audience for this new offering is huge; Citrix says it currently delivers Windows apps and desktops to more than 100 million users.

Project Avalon ups the ante by enabling users to rapidly deploy personalized Windows apps and desktops in private clouds spanning single or multiple sites, and to use public clouds in a capacity-on-demand fashion that supports business initiatives like business continuity, integrating mergers and acquisitions or offshoring projects.

In recognition of its relationship with Amazon Web Services, Citrix says Project Avalon creates an infrastructure that transforms any desktop into a Amazon-style cloud, adding "By leveraging the new Citrix CloudPlatform, powered by Apache CloudStack, Project Avalon will also make it easy for existing Citrix customers to adapt new features at whatever pace they like, allowing them to mix and match different versions of Windows Server, XenDesktop and XenApp -- and span any mix of public and private clouds."

Citrix would not announce the availability of Project Avalon.

Citrix CloudPlatform Powered by Apache CloudStack
The company also unveiled a strategic move to enhance its open source status in the cloud world by taking the wraps off Citrix CloudPlatform, which it calls "the first commercially supported cloud orchestration system based on Apache CloudStack." Citrix laid the groundwork for this announcement in early April when it submitted the CloudStack platform to the Apache Software Foundation, which is known for building, managing and delivering highly scalable IaaS clouds.

Citrix has added new functionality via its built-in Amazon API capability, software defined networking enablement, and Project Avalon integrations. It says Citrix CloudPlatform has more than 30,000 community members. Citrix CloudPlatform Powered by Apache will be available by the end of June.

CloudGateway 2
The updated CloudGateway 2 enterprise mobility solution features new mobile app management capabilities that include full support for native HTML 5, iOS and Android apps, in addition to integrating with Citrix ShareFile. The result for users is a "single, unified control point for all apps and data, enterprise wide" that enables them to "be as productive on the go as they are in the office with access to their personalized set of applications and data when and where they need them." CloudGateway 2 will be available this July.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 05/14/2012 at 12:48 PM2 comments

Unidesk Integrates with Dell DVS, XenDesktop

In a deal that gives a big boost to Unidesk, the company has joined the ever-expanding ranks of vendors associating with Dell via an agreement that calls for Unidesk's VDI management software to be integrated with Dell Desktop Virtualization Solutions (DVS). According to the two companies, Unidesk in combination with DVS slashes VDI storage costs by 70 percent while simplifying desktop configuration and application delivery.

DVS Enterprise combines Dell 12G servers, Dell storage, Dell network components, broker and hypervisor software, services and end points, including thin clients. It now offers Unidesk as the desktop provisioning and management software component for Citrix XenDesktop or VMware View, a development which further enhances Unidesk's reputation as a company with a future within an industry that is still relatively young and seems to have more players than it can support.

Unidesk's layered approach to VDI management features a central layering of standard applications, including what the company describes as "the many applications that cannot be packaged and delivered by application virtualization technology. Once layered, applications can be assigned to one or more desktops without reinstallation."

Unidesk and Dell showcased their new agreement by touting a joint installation at the University of Connecticut, where Jeremy Pollack, director of IT for the University of Connecticut School of Business, heaped praise on the two firms' technologies, saying, "The combination of Dell and Unidesk has been instrumental to the success of our vPC desktop virtualization initiative from both IT operations and user acceptance perspectives."

As a member of the Citrix Ready program, Unidesk completed the Citrix Ready testing process to make its desktop layering solution verified for use with XenDesktop. The integration with XenDesktop SDK enables admins to provision desktops customized with different combinations of Unidesk OS and application layers directly into XenDesktop catalogs and groups.

In support of the XenDesktop integration, Unidesk quoted Dru Lesnick, assistant vice president of Information systems at Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance in West Des Moines, Iowa, who commented "Our Unidesk Layer Builders can package all of our applications in minutes, from standard office productivity apps to complex property and casualty apps. Then we can custom-build desktops using different layer combinations and make them available through XenDesktop, all in a few clicks."

Dell DVS Enterprise with Unidesk is currently available through Dell Direct.

Unidesk with the new XenDesktop integration is available now through Unidesk's network of channel partners.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 05/08/2012 at 12:48 PM0 comments

Upgraded Cortado Workplace Debuts

Although Cortado is quick to note the promising Thinprint OEM deal it made with VMware last November, its primary item of concern these days is the upcoming GA of HTML5 version of Cortado Workplace, which adds client for PCs, Macs and notebooks to its existing series of apps for some 230,000 users of iPhones, iPads, Android and Blackberry devices.

The cloud-based Cortado Workplace enables users to enjoy all of the "practical" desktop features it offers on any device from any location, while securely accessing corporate resources. According to the company, "The app provides users with free and fast access to their personal, password-protected 2 GB online storage space and multiple file-handling features, such as the ability for files to be e-mailed of exported to PDF."

The HTML5 version makes it easier to use the personal Cortado Workplace account with different devices. For example, files can be uploaded with a PC or Mac and then accessed and edited with a smart phone or tablet.

According to Cortado CEO Henning Volkmer, the new version has been beta tested "extensively internally" and it has no direct competition -- which is a familiar claim from vendors these days. He qualifies that claim by noting some companies such as Mobileiron and AirWatch offer device management, which is only one feature of Cortado Workplace.

Regarding Dropbox, Volkmer says people don't like it because it is insecure and fails to provide "traceability" and "accountability." However, he adds, while Dropbox may not be popular, it is still used independently of IT control, and "There's nothing IT can do about it."

The new version of Cortado Workplace retains the previous version's price point of $100 per user.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 05/07/2012 at 12:48 PM0 comments

VMware View 5.1 Debuts with Portfolio of End-User Solutions

VMware bundled three events into one by unveiling VMware View 5.1, announcing that VMware Project Octopus Beta will empower the governing powers of IT administrators, and declaring that the newly introduced VMware Horizon Application Manager 1.5 will help IT groups open more doors to user access.

VMware is positioning View 5.1 as complementary technology to the company's efforts to establish a portfolio of "personal cloud solutions" that will simplify technology, manage more efficiently and better connect employees. When you hear this presentation in person, it sounds a little like VMware is following closely in Citrix's tracks when it talks about "freeing employees and IT organizations from more than two decades of complex, device-centric computing," and "providing new ways for employees to collaborate across applications and data from any device, where and when a user needs it."

However, View 5.1 continues adding luster to a product that was navigating rocky straits not too long ago by enhancing the all-important end-user experience and claiming to reduce the TCO associated with VDI by up to 50 percent. The fact is, View is giving Citrix XenDesktop a run for its money, and the two are neck and neck in the battle for market share.

Other new View 5.1 capabilities enable IT organizations to expedite critical and core IT processes such as provisioning, configuration management, connection brokering, policy enforcement, performance monitoring and application assignment from a central console.

Regarding the enhanced end-user experience, View 5.1 includes a new USB stack that improves device support, while integration of RADIUS two-factor authentication gives users and businesses more robust security options. Reflecting a recession in the prolonged protocol wars, this announcement only mentions PCoIP once, saying when it is combined with View, "It adapts to the end-user's network connection to provide a high-quality, customized desktop experience over the LAN and WAN. Users can connect to their VMware View desktop from a variety of mobile and fixed endpoints with updated clients for Mac, Windows and Linux desktops, thin or zero clients, and Apple iPad, Android and Amazon Kindle Fire tablets."

VMware Horizon Application Manager 1.5 has moved on-premise as a virtual appliance that acts as a centralized policy and entitlement engine that brokers user access to apps, virtual desktops and data resources. According to VMware, "Integrating the application virtualization capabilities of VMware ThinApp, the VMware Horizon Application catalog will benefit both IT and end users by consolidating diverse applications types into a single, unified catalog."

VMware Project Octopus, which is expected to bow later in the current quarter as a beta for qualified customer trials, was designed to make it easier for IT groups to enable employees to share data and collaborate with anyone from any device. Whether it is deployed on premise or via a VMware service provider, "VMware Project Octopus will provide the ability for IT administers to govern usage and set policies for data access and sharing within their organization or with external contributors.

View 5.1 together with the updated VMware End-User Computing portfolio is expected to be available by the end of June.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 05/01/2012 at 12:48 PM4 comments